Video Digest #5 – Skal messes up messer, HEMA is everywhere

And it is time for a Video Digest, yet again!

Now, I don’t intend to advertise myself or my school here too much, but on the other hand, when I am commenting on other videos, you should perhaps know and see what I am doing in that department.

So this is my last video, uploaded a few days ago. Mostly a test for my new gimbal, which performed awesome, and to make it more interesting, there is sparring with some special atypical bucklers in there.

But let us move on to everyone else!

Longsword and sword and shield in Finland

I wanted to start with this one, because it has some curious details. These dudes from Finland (I am guessing based on the Suomi in the title) call what they do “soft sparring”. We call it elastic tempo or slow sparring. It is a flowy free fencing, with no script, but with no hard intent either. Just playing.

Now, you can criticize the guy on the left for the SCA grill instead of a mask, but notice they don’t go for thrusts with the feders and are careful with the boffers too. It is okay not to have equipment in the beginning, as long as you know the limits of what you have.

HEMA in Malaysia is going well

If you haven’t heard, there is HEMA in some places far, far away, and I am not talking about Australia, as that example is not so surprising. Proving HEMA is really something for all humanity, people in Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia also practice HEMA. And it is not easy for them, as getting equipment there is really difficult. Not to mention the temperatures are not exactly perfect for jackets.

And you can see that those guys are fencing very cleanly, with nice posture and some great actions. Keep it going, guys!

Understanding the bind with Sala d’Arme del Folle and Keith Farrell

The Sala d’Arme del Folle in Torino has just opened its doors and they have already started publishing awesome content.

A very detailed and very well made video on binding in the Liechtenauer tradition is perfect after the pretty promo last week from these guys. And this time they are joined by well-known British instructor Keith Farrell.

Farrell and the Italians go with clean actions, a sensible progression and showing – both slowly and with intent – Winden and how it is affected by Fuhlen in the bind. Awesome video for anyone, but also very good for beginners in German longsword.

B&I disarm us again

Blood & Iron from Canada produce a nice video, yet again. Those are three fun disarms, one demonstrated with a longsword, one with rapier and dagger, and one with messer.

I have to tell you – the first disarm shown is one of the most high-percentage disarms out there. I have done it in sparring and in tournaments (although I usually stop before the disarm and hit in tourneys, disarming someone holding a sidesword through the rings might be dangerous to their finger).

The rapier and dagger disarm is cool, but I have no experience with dagger, so I can’t tell you how often it works. The messer one is applicable to any one-handed sword, though it does get needlessly complicated and concrete in the second part.

Skallagrim messes up on falchions and messers

I don’t like being negative, but Skall is very popular and when he makes mistakes, it propagates quickly around everyone in HEMA and in the general population.

Now, I like a lot of his stuff, so this won’t be Skal-bashing, and he is correct in the screenshot – that monstrosity with a circular construction at the base of the blade is not a falchion. And a lot of info on what is typical for falchions and messers is absolutely fine.

His idea that a falchion and a messer are very distinct is somewhat false. Rather, they are distinct in form, but not so much in function.

If you are going to speak about swords, you cannot skip mentioning Peter Johnsson, the Swedish smith, researcher and designer of Albion Swords who is pretty much the Loremaster of Medieval swords, especially after the death of the late Ewart Oakeshott.

Here is what he says on the topic:


Just some further details, 
A Messer is defined from the construction of its grip rather than outline, size or type of its blade. They come in many shapes and sizes. Short and pointy, short and broad, straight, curved long and slim or long and broad.
Some are long two hand weapons and are usually refered to as war knives (Kriegsmesser) shorter ones are called “big knives” (Grosse messer) 
Grips are made like (surprise!) knife grips: two slabs riveted on a wide flat tang. It is worth noting that the grip construction is sometimes hidden as the grip might have a leather covering wrapped around completely. This I have seen on a few of the big war knives in the Wienna armoury. I do not know how common that feature was, but I think the norm was visible grip scales (wood, horn or bone) and exposed tang. (The grip scales can have separate leather cover as well). 
Pommel is a cap or curved plate adding very little weight in the way of counter balance. It is the distribution of weight in the blade and tang that induces the handling and performance of these weapons. 
Normally they are not that heavy. There are monster versions of huge size and weight, but most have nimble and quick blades, despite being broad and impressive in profile.
A feature often found on the hilts is the protective lug or ring that has been commented on earlier in this thread. When it is a lug it often doubles as a rivet to secure the cross guard in place. 

If you mount a blade of messer type in a sword type hilt, you get a Falchion.

Peter Johnsson

And if you are going to discuss messers and falchions, you cannot skip James Elmslie, also a smith and a researcher, specializing in the messer… and the falchion. He is also the author of the first messer and falchion typology, which looks like so:

The typology is of single edged blades. They all may show up with the hilt of a falchion or a hilt of a messer. The blade is the same.

3 thoughts on “Video Digest #5 – Skal messes up messer, HEMA is everywhere

  1. Thanks for noticing us in Malaysia! The video you posted is actually from our yearly South-East Asian gathering Seize the Initiative. We had people coming over from Indonesia and Singapore, but we have contacts in Thailand and other SEA countries as well.

    It’s nice to see our efforts noticed 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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